It’s alright. I know your heart is telling you it’s too soon to fall again, but it’s ok. There’s reason to get excited, to believe. You’ve been hurt before, but this time, it really is different. We’ve truly never seen anything like this. So it’s ok to already be excited for the Bills’ season to start.
In the 20 years leading up to last Thursday, since the NFL implemented an unrestricted free-agent system, the most money Ralph & Co. had ever handed out was $7 million-a-year to Derrick Dockery. You know, the Derrick Dockery who has started four games in the last two seasons.
Ok, bad memory. But seriously folks, this time it’s different. The Buffalo Bills, owners of the longest playoff drought in the NFL today, went out and signed the top free agent at his position in the market to the largest contract for a defender in the history of the league.
Aside from the lift this gives the entire defense, Buddy Nix gets a huge boost in stature from this signing. In my eyes, this deal legitimized his leadership. All Foghorn Leghorn jokes aside, it cements his position as a straight shooter who sticks to his guns.
Done, done, done, and done.
Will he be able to keep it up by restructuring Fred Jackson’s contract and finding difference makers in this year’s draft? Only time will tell. But for now, you can’t find much to fault in the Bills’ GM.
But enough about the signing itself. After a while the luster of all those zeroes at the end of Williams’ contract will wear off and the big questions will still need to be answered. How good can this defense be? Will the 4-3 mask the fact that our linebackers & secondary are less than great? Is Dave Wannstedt the answer at defensive coordinator? Are we really going to pay Shawne Merriman $5 million to salvage his reputation?
I’m not sure I’m smart enough to answer any of these questions well. Obviously adding a player as talented as Mario Williams will only make us better, but how much better is impossible to determine with any certainty. No sport exists with more variables than football. Serious speculation is simply a waste of time. (Peter King’s 2011 Super Bowl Prediction: Falcons over Chargers. Oops.)
Simply let the excitement wash over you. Your Buffalo Bills made the biggest splash of the NFL off-season.
Today? I’m excited for the draft. I’m excited to see what our schedule looks like. I honestly believe the Bills have a shot at a playoff spot.
Foolish? Probably. Fun? Definitely.
As I’ve said time and time again, sports should be about fun. Splitting the hairs on Mario’s head is pointless until games are played. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the feeling that the organization finally cares and maybe, just maybe, has a clue. Yes, that says more about the level of my standards than anything else, but still, improvements were needed and they have been made, with more coming on the horizon. It's hard for me to find bad things to say about a team I shredded to the best of my ability two months ago.
Are things definitely going to be different? I don’t know how much, but they already are. The Bills of the last 12 years never made moves like this. These Bills resigned a true #1 receiver, then went out and got one of the two biggest jewels in the free agent market. And neither of them ever entertained offers elsewhere.
No one saw this coming. But it happened. So go ahead. Let yourself fall in love all over again.
For once, there’s a really good reason.